Access to Information wants to be free. From Robert Marleau.


Wells has the full story on the soon-to-be-infamous Drapeau letter, in which the retired colonel has a few home truths for Information Commissioner Robert Marleau, whose ‘triage’ approach to dealing with priority requests “is offensive to the very notion that the access right is quasi-constitutional in nature.”


Access to Information wants to be free. From Robert Marleau.

  1. Tim Naumetz had the “full story” first.

  2. Whoops, I mean Andrew Thomson. I can’t keep my freelancers straight.

  3. As I point out, with link, at the bottom of my post, Andrew.

  4. righty oh. I’ll go back to work then.

  5. What an interesting article. Steve Maich is great.

  6. Steve, this is an informative piece re the risk-mitigating behaviour of credit card companies once they deem risk to have been elevated, what it seems to me to ignore, much like the response of the companies themselves, is what of, if any, their behaviours elevated the risk.

    it would be interesting to see an analysis of how credit companies extend credit. Credit often seems incommensurate with income and thus with potential risk. This seems especially the case given, as you outline, how predictable behaviour seems to be when things do go awry.

    An not this is not to suggest a lack of personal responsibility. But to the degree that credit companies appear to be facilitating unhealthy financial behaviour through a model that pads their pockets (via high interest rates on substantial sums) when things are going along swell, but disintegrate when things are not well, I am probably less sympathetic.

  7. Canadians have indeed become far less frugal. In fact, the word frugal applies now to only a few of us. Should we blame credit card compaines? Credit of all types was once very difficult to obtain, especially for single women. Then it became easier and easier to get credit, but also more expensive. People tend to ignore the cost of borrowing using credit cards. And I know that 5 years ago when I made a major purchase using a credit card, my credit limit went up immediately, by the amount borrowed. The card company did not wait to find out if I would pay all the outstanding amount at once( though I did) which would have been a prudent policy. .

    It’s late in the game, but credit card companies are now being more cautious. Too bad a lot of Canadians are not. Almost everyone I know has a debt load that will kill them financially, if they lose their source of income for more than three months. That’s a distressing fact. Too many people don’t want to wait until they can afford to buy – the TV, the car, the southern vacation, or whatever else is shiny. Maybe because things were too good, for too long, they forgot that sooner or later, the piper must be paid, and paid in full.

  8. All I can say is thank god I have a deep aversion to debt of any kind. A trait that is coming in very usefull of late especially some of the deals around right now .. woo hoo!

  9. The numbers for U.S. debt in this article don’t match up what I’ve read elsewhere, including the recent reports by the Bank of Int’l Settlements:

    Zero equity mortgages, house flipping, multiple maxed out credit cards and deferring car payments until next year regardless of your credit rating drove average household debt in the United States and Britain to almost twice disposable income, the highest in the world. Canadian household debt is quite a lot lower at 1.4 times, but even this doesn’t tell the whole story.

    U.S. and British house prices have fallen much more dramatically than in Canada, and negative home equity is effectively another form of debt. While Canadians’ debt wall isn’t nearly as high, the reality is that it will take the next decade to pay off the household debts accumulated during the past decade, so the buying spree is over here, too.


    • Regardless of where we are in relation to other countries, the fact remains that we aren’t frugal in any sense of the word. Household debt at 1.4 times annual disposable income is still remarkably high and provides a clear picture that we are about as consumed in debt culture as our American counterparts.

      Lately we’ve all been getting graded on our overall financial management skills – even if the average American gets a 10% and the average Canadian gets a 25%, it still means we’re both getting solid ‘F’s.

    • Negative home equity is not ‘effectively another form of debt’. If you owe $100k on your home, you owe the same $100k regardless of whether your house is worth $1M or $10k. The only thing that changes if you’re underwater on your mortgage is the risk to the bank.

  10. We need a mandatory course in elementary school that teaches children how to budget. I remember my first year of secondary school, our teacher incorporated managing money as part of the curriculum, using taxes and interest rates and so on for the mandatory calculating of percentages. We wrote down everything we thought we’d ‘need’ in a week (although I grant that the ‘needs’ of 12 year olds were rarely reality-based) and how much it would cost without taxes. Then we would be given $100 of ‘money’ and figure out what we actually needed, what we just wanted and budget the money accordingly, after calculating the taxes. Simplistic, yeah, but at least it got us thinking. A course like that, on a larger scale, is part of what we should be teaching children.

    • “A course like that, on a larger scale, is part of what we should be teaching children.”

      Education would be very helpful. I recommend giving youngsters a course on how central banks assist politicians by pumping up credit bubbles, devaluing the currency, increasing the overall level of indebtedness, destroying savings and capital and causing overinvestment in unproductive industries, followed by catastrophic economic collapse and the rise of socialist interventions and the nationalization of large parts of the economy in the name of “helping” people. A lot of oldsters would benefit too.

      The only problem is, I don’t think that the people who caused all the problems are going to start revealing their tricks. You’ll have to educate yourself and your family outside of the Borg academies.

      • Don’t forget the lesson on how to make the tin-foil hats to protect them from the orbital mind control lasers that keep the vast majority of people from realizing how this system they continue to uphold makes their lives all miserable.. oh wait..

  11. Well, looks like the advice I give to American clients goes for Canadians now too. Make it a regular practice to call your credit cards to ask for a lower rate. I have one client who owes over $20,000 on a Visa that was at 18%. He spoke with a ‘rate specialist’, touting his rising credit score and declining balance and got his rate cut in half, from 18% to 9%! His monthly interest charge was instantly reduced by $150, which will help him pay off his debt even sooner.

  12. Considering that a typical student graduates with betwen 1 to 2 times their starting salary in student loans, and that the cost of a house is typically three to five times household income, 1.4 seems a pretty low figure overall. Break down these numbers into the type of debt, and they might mean something.

  13. Was always amazed by the nitwits lining up in the freezing cold all night for boxing day sales for the latest electonic piece of junk that would likely be broken or passe before the next boxing day. God, you all must have vacuious lives if that’s all you have to do. Saw this whole mess coming, got tiered of paying mafia style interest rates on credit cards so I got rid of them. Sold our house, payed off all debts, don’t owe a cent to any of these vultures. Rent a modest place and have money in the bank. Cheers.

  14. Hi Mr. Maich.
    I am doing a paper on the state of the Canadian economy in the latter half of 2008 and, since I have found no way of contacting you, was hoping you could email me to respond to my thesis, if at all possible. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

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